Thursday, August 7, 2008

Public Relations

Turns out Dora and I have something in common besides our mutual love of raspados: we both used to work in Public Relations.

Except that my version of PR was the useless kind. Before I saw the proverbial light and became a full-time teacher, my job was to pitch (read: hawk) stories on products -- ranging from sausage to vodka to encyclopedias -- to TV news producers and newspaper journalists who had much better things to do than take my phone calls when they were on deadline. I spent most of my 60-plus-hour workweek beating my head against the wall.

Dora, on the other hand, worked in relaciones públicas, which I have learned is much different than my version of PR. Relaciones públicas is an art, and Dora is an artist. She worked as a receptionist at a bank, and later at an office for one of Mexico's political parties. In this capacity, her job was actually to relate to the public (read: navigate her way through Mexico's infamous bureaucracy on behalf of her customers). She has long since retired and made it her full-time job to spoil her three grandchildren (and me), but her PR skills are still sharp.

This afternoon, Dora called the light company on my behalf. I'm planning to move into my new apartment this weekend, and need to get my utilities up and running. I stood by while she made the phone call, so I can only speculate as to what really transpired on the other end of the line, but I imagine it went something like this:

Dora: Good afternoon, I need to open a new account please.
Light Company Guy: Okay, we need 48 hours to process your order.
D: But we need the lights for tomorrow.
LCG: I'm sorry, ma'am, but there's really nothing I can do.
D: Listen, honey, what is your name?
LCG: Julio.
D: Julio, sweetheart, here's the thing. The account is for a foreigner. From the United States. And you know we need to be nice to people from our neighboring country, don't you, dear?
LCG: (Long pause) Uh, yeah...
D: So how late do your crews work tomorrow?
LCG: Until 8 p.m.
D: Well, see? There's no problem then. That's almost 48 hours from now. So we'll have the lights for tomorrow, right?
LCG: But we need 48 hours...
D: Did I mention that this foreign girl is really cute? She's beautiful. You can't even imagine...
LCG: But we need 48...
D: Oh, Julio, she's really cute! And you haven't even seen her yet. Just imagine! So lights for tomorrow then? Perfect! Thanks so much, Julio, my dear!

Dora hung up and smiled at me.

"You'll have the lights for tomorrow, mi vida."

What can I say? The woman is good.


Lyra said...

Sara I feel your pain. I interned for a PR firm in college and never again will I work in that wretched shallow industry. :)

Dahlia said...

LOL, I could have used her skills when I was there! How long are you staying?

Susan said...

Dora rocks. I must meet this woman!